For gamers, Niantic is not a name that many would have been familiar with a couple of years or even a year ago, but after the wildly expanding popularity of their breakout augmented reality game Ingress, it would be hard not to take notice of the once Google-owned game company formerly known as Niantic Labs. With Ingress already having been out for a few years now and Niantic’s second AR title Endgame nearing a launch sometime in the future, Niantic last night announced their next official project: Pokémon GO. Yes, Niantic is partnering with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for a Pokémon augmented reality game and it’s due for launch sometime in 2016.
When the game hits next year, it will be a free title just like Ingress, and players will be able to scour the far reaches of the globe to find and capture Pokémon in the wild. Using the game’s UI as the interface, players will be able to hunt down Pokémon, select a Pokéball from their inventory and toss it to capture them. Gotta Catch Em’ All. Pokémon is about much more than just capturing the diverse collective of monsters though, it’s also about battling, and there will be plenty of that included. Players will be able to face off in real-time PvP battles with other trainers and put their skills to the test to see who has the strongest Pokémon. You’ll be able to trade with other trainers too, so if you happen to capture more than one of a certain Pokémon you can swap it out for something you don’t have with someone else just like in the real Pokémon games for Nintendo consoles.
While players will be able to search for Pokémon in the wild using just their smartphones, Nintendo has also developed and manufactured a companion piece to the game called the Pokémon GO Plus, which will be a little Bluetooth enabled device that you can connect to your phone. The Pokémon GO Plus will then flash and vibrate to notify trainers about Pokémon in the area as well as alert them to nearby events happening. What sort of events? Raids, to be specific. You’ll be able to battle other trainers, of course, but every so often there will be limited timed events where players can join a raid to fight against powerful Pokémon as a group (see the video below) for big rewards. The game will also include in-app purchases of some sort although there was no mention just yet on what that could be. It’s a likely possibility that the various types of Pokéballs could be a possible optional purchase item. There’s no exact release date yet for Pokémon GO, but that gives future Pokémon trainers plenty of time to get excited about what’s to come.